What Can You Do With a Linguistic Degree?

What Can You Do With a Linguistic Degree

Many people often doubt the capabilities of linguistics degree holders. Statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor project a 24% increase in the demand for degree holders in this field in the next decade. In this article, we will enlighten you on the programs you will study as a linguistic major, what you can do with a linguistic degree, the jobs available for linguistic degree holders, and clear doubts on questions like if Linguistics is a science program? Do they know lots of languages?

What Will I Study as a Linguistics Major?

Majoring in linguistics entails learning about the various aspects of human language. Including:

Syntax: the study of words and how they combine to form sentences.  

Phonetics: entails the analysis of sounds (physical aspects). 

Semantics: it studies the meaning of phrases, words, or texts.

Historical linguistics: learns the change in languages like Latin over time.

Sociolinguistics: examines the connection between society and language. 

Pragmatics: investigates the use of language in context.

Computational linguistics: studies how humans process and interpret language automatically.

Psycholinguistics: this branch studies how humans respond to words when spoken.

Language acquisition: it learns how humans acquire and understand their native language. 

Phonology: the study of sounds (cognitive aspects). 

Neurolinguistics: This studies brain mechanisms controlling speaking, hearing, seeing, and how they relate to language.

Dialectology: this is the study of dialects. Dialects are a unique set of languages peculiar to a social group or a specific region.

Anthropological linguistics: studies the relationship between culture and language. 

Linguistic programs are organized in different field aspects. Examples include studying how students learn a language in a classroom setting (applied linguistics). Other courses related to linguistics are philosophy, anthropology, computer science, the English language, etc. We study linguistics to enhance our knowledge and understanding of each other. 

What Can You Do with a Linguistics Degree?

Linguistic graduates are skilled in data collection and analysis, argumentation, clarity of expression (oral and written), and analytical thinking. 

Other essential skills that will help you in making arguments, drawing conclusions, formulating hypotheses, observations, and generating predictions include:

  • IT skills 
  • Time management and organization skills 
  • Research skills (quantitative and research methodology) 
  • Project management skills 
  • Ability to work independently and with others. 
  • Self-management skills
  • Problem-solving skills.

Linguistic programs provide a variety of professional careers and graduate-level programs. A few might require additional skills, but not all.

Jobs for Graduates with a Linguistics Degree 

Computational Linguist in the Tech Industry

Computational linguistics is a branch that applies computer science techniques to the synthesis and analysis of speech and language. In the tech industry, they use text-to-speech(TTS) synthesizers, search engines, language instruction materials, speech recognition systems, interactive voice response, text editors, etc. Courses that prepare you in this field include linguistics, programming, natural language processing, and math. They earn an average salary of $75,519 in the US. 


They translate oral or written material from one or more source languages to another (target language), ensuring the target language conveys a precise meaning to the original. Translators use technical, business, scientific and legal materials like books, reports, articles, etc. A few skills a translator should have includes paying attention to detail, straightforward writing style, good communication skills, fluency in at least two foreign languages, IT skills, research skills, organization, etc. the primary duties of a translator is to use software applications to upload content, read documents, prepare summaries, writing, build and develop contacts with clients, etc. San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Washington, San Diego, and Santa Maria are the best-paying cities for translators in the United States of America. 

  • San Francisco, California: $80,780 
  • Santa Rosa, California: $90,160 
  • Washington: $80,240 
  • San Diego, California: $82,150 
  • Santa Maria, California: $79,150.  

Linguistic Professor

They teach in University departments such as psychology, linguistics, communication science and speech, philosophy, etc. to qualify for this job, you need a Ph.D., professional teaching certificate, and a masters’ degree. They carry out the following duties: 

  • Play the lead role in departmental academics of students to increase their personal development, learning skills, etc. 
  • They supervise Ph.D. candidates. 
  • Pursue opportunities that will enhance postgraduate programs in the department 
  • Apply for grants to carry out new research projects 
  • They carry out effective communications between colleagues and students 
  • They lead scholarships, teaching, and research in applied linguistics 
  • They carry out management and administrative responsibilities requested by the Head of Department (HOD). 

Statistics from the American Association of University Professors show that, in the year 2020, full-time linguist professors made an average salary of $140,543.  

Teach a Foreign Language

Foreign language teachers are responsible for teaching students how to read, speak, understand, and write languages different from their natural-born language, for example, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, etc. Their primary responsibilities include:  

  • Evaluating and observing student’s performance, 
  • Tutoring students on an individual basis,
  • Plan lessons,
  • Design projects to enhance lectures, 
  • Teach students how to read,
  • Interpret, understand, and write foreign languages, 
  • Translate foreign languages into student’s natural-born language, 
  • Prepare instructional activities, 
  • Participate in training sessions, 
  • Read current topics in education to stay abreast, 
  • Utilize curriculum resources, etc. 

They make an average salary of $52,716 annually in the United States of America.  

Forensic Linguist

They analyze wills, suicide notes, contracts, texts, trademarks, emails, police interview transcripts, witness statements, phone calls transcripts, confessions, ransom letters, product warnings, courtroom transcripts, etc. Forensic linguists help solve crimes by analyzing recorded or written language documents. They study phonetics, grammar, dialect, sentence construction, etc., in order to ensure correct and authentic interpretations. They work in law enforcement agencies (to prevent and investigate crime), as consultants, law firms on trademark violation, copyright infringement cases, etc. statistics from PayScale.com shows that they earn an average salary of $68,340 monthly. Skills that will help you excel in this field include paying attention to detail, being curious, exercising patience, being determined and competitive, etc.

Technical Writer

They maintain technical documents such as system engineering, system operations, software engineering, etc., by reviewing, preparing, and revising them. Their responsibility is to select websites, develop product manuals, and create website help sections, manuals, field reports, datasheets, release notes, and other content involving clear technical information. Statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor show they make an average hourly wage of $37,53 or $78,060 annually. A good technical writer is skilled in exploration and research, teamwork, proofreading, single-sourcing, technology, writing, sociology, web designing, critical thinking, etc. They convey ideas, instructions, observations, suggestions, and views of clients technically and more logically. They deal with science, technology, and engineering.    


They produce clear and engaging text for different channel adverts such as catalogs, print ads, websites, blog entries, email campaigns, social media posts, etc. Duties of a copywriter include:  

  • Understanding the target audience of their client,
  • Message and brand voice, 
  • Writing error-free and accurate content for websites reflecting the company’s voice,
  • Turns technical information into persuasive copy concepts, 
  • Edit and modifies clients’ copy to meet their content, 
  • Carry out projects for their clients, 
  • Collaborate with an organizations’ marketing departments to develop and brainstorm a variety of marketing materials. 

They can work as freelancers. An average copywriter makes $57,561 per year, which may depend on their level of education, experience, and geographical location.        

Language Specialist

They are commonly known as translators or interpreters. Language specialists translate written text (source language) from one language to another (target language). Before translating or interpreting, they consider the slang, tone, symbolic communication, and style of both the source and target language. They specialize in fields like law, medicine, literature, etc. Statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor show that in May 2020, language specialists earned an average salary of $58,140 and $27.95 per hour. Also, other statistics show that 30% of language specialists work in other scientific, technical, and professional services, such as interpretation and translation shops. However, in the next decade, statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor show that there will be a 24% increase in the demand for language specialists in the United States. This is three times above the average for other jobs. Experts in French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, Korean, Japanese, American Sign Language, Hindi, Arabic, and other frequently translated languages will be in high demand.     

Sign Language Interpreter

They act as mediums to facilitate conversations or communications between the deaf and the hearing. Skills you’ll need to become a sign language interpreter include reading, business, listening, etc. In cities like Virginia, they earn $33 per hour. In Maryland, they earn 30$, in New Jersey $30, in New York $24, in Arizona $24, etc. Their responsibilities include maintaining and establishing good work relationships with students, provide transcribing services, reviews current legislation, technologies, and literature to stay abreast of new techniques and developments in interpretation, provide needs which include a visual aid, seating arrangements, etc., for hard-of-hearing students and the deaf.        

Copy Editor 

Otherwise known as proofreaders, they have to ensure that the documents they work on are consistent, error-free, credible, and complete. They also ensure that their materials are accessible, grammatically correct, and well-written. Copy editors possess the following skills: excellent writers, flexible, work well with others, pay attention to detail, have a good mastery of the English language, etc. 

They’re responsible for overseeing content production, developing content calendars, rewriting copies from writers, monitoring deadlines, assigning projects, developing creative ideas for content, adhering to good journalism practices, etc. they earn $26 per hour or have an average salary $54,207 in the US. 

Do Linguists know lots of languages? 

Only a handful of linguists speak different languages. It is possible to become a monolingual linguist and still excel in the field. Linguists figure out and analyze how children acquire languages, how languages vary, and how they are structured. Therefore a linguist has to learn about the various aspects of language rather than knowing different languages even though they could be better informed during research if they do. 

Is Linguistics a science? 

Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its various aspects.

We study linguistics to study and investigate how people acquire language knowledge, how they understand it, how they interpret it, and how they respond to it. 


The purpose of this article was to provide a handy guide to what linguistics is all about, the programs you will study as a linguistic major, what you can do with a linguistic degree, the jobs that are available for linguistic degree holders, and clear doubts on if Linguistics is a science program and weather Linguists know lots of languages. Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It entails learning syntax, grammar, phonetics, etc. There are many skills you can get after having a linguistic degree. Some of them include problem-solving skills, IT skills, research skills, project management skills, etc. Assuming you are not sure if this field is a profitable career path to invest in, it might interest you to know the following:

  •  Experts in frequently translatable languages would always be in high demand in countries like the United States of America. 
  • Statistics from the U.S Bureau of Labor project a 24% increase in the demand for degree holders in this field in the next decade. 

This shows that the future is bright in this field, so stop listening to naysayers and move on to the next step that would push you forward as a linguist. Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two, and we’re delighted to have a positive impact on your career.

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